Isaac Hambrock and Melanie LaRoche-Boisvert from McGill University compete in the mechanical design challenge at the 2017 Canadian Mining Games. Jacob Rumsey, University of Toronto

The University of British Columbia ranked first in the 2017 Canadian Mining Games, beating out nine other teams for the top honours. The games, hosted this year by the University of Toronto from Feb. 23 to 26, are an annual tradition in mining academia that allow students from across the country to network with peers and meet future employers.

The University of Toronto placed second while the University of Alberta and Université Laval tied for third. 

Participating teams competed in 19 different challenges, ranging from drill and blast competitions to crisis management. The challenges were designed to test industry-related skills and provide students with exposure to real mining problems. The winning team was recorded for each event and the overall winners were announced at the awards gala in the Fairmont Royal York ballroom on Feb. 26, with each team winning a different bottle of fine liquor for first, second and third place rankings.

When students were not competing, they took part in the games’ social calendar, with events like archery tag, private access to the Royal Ontario Museum’s mineral exhibition, networking dinners and pub nights. But, as many of the students can attest, the games are less about the alluring activities, glittering galas and bubbling bar banter, and more about networking opportunities. 

Oleg Shteyner, one of the organizers and a mining engineering graduate at the University of Toronto, told CIM Magazine the most important part of the games was meeting future colleagues. “It’s a small industry,” he said, “and [here] you’ll certainly meet about 50 per cent of the people you’ll be working with later on.”

Behind the scenes, the organizing committee admitted getting sponsors, especially at the beginning of the process, did not come easily. Shteyner speculated that the state of the industry – just starting to recover after a prolonged downturn – had contributed to the scant responses for sponsorship dollars. However, thanks to last-minute commitments from sponsors, the committee was able to earmark around $30,000 from this year’s sponsorship funds for the 2018 games, which will be hosted by Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.